Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Trudeau Institute Fellow Takes Lead Role In Covid-19 Vaccine Trial

Trudeau Institute Fellow Dr. Stephen Thomas has been named lead principal investigator for Pfizer/BioNTech’s phase 3 clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

On Monday, those companies announced early tests showing that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Thomas, the chief of infectious disease for SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, became Trudeau’s first fellow in 2018. He has worked closely with the Institute on projects targeting Zika virus and other emerging infectious diseases and was co-organizer of the Institute’s 2018 Global Health Summit.

In his role as lead principal investigator, Thomas will assist Pfizer and BioNTech as the companies share trial results with regulatory agencies.

“At Trudeau, we’ve seen firsthand the expertise that Stephen Thomas brings to solving our most vexing infectious disease challenges,” said Atsuo Kuki, Trudeau Institute’s president. “He combines tremendously deep experience rolling out vaccines for ominous global health epidemics with a fierce dedication to high-quality execution. We’re proud to see him recognized and congratulate him, as well as SUNY and SUNY Upstate, on the leadership they’ve shown in fighting this pandemic.”

While Trudeau is not involved with the Pfizer trial, researchers here have worked closely with other scientists across the Trudeau Research Network to support vaccine development. In addition, the Institute has worked closely with North Country health officials on COVID-19 testing, and has partnered with Adirondack Health to open the region’s first COVID-19 testing lab to rely on PCR/RNA analysis—widely considered the gold standard for testing.

“The news from Pfizer/BioNTech is very exciting, but we can’t let up,” Kuki said. “The sooner we develop additional vaccine candidates, the sooner the world can get back to normal. But before that happens, we need to remain vigilant, wear masks, and expand our testing capabilities.

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